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Not Entirely Like a Novel

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She is a certified book nerd, or at least she would be if they had certificates for that sort of thing. She lived through her novels, explored whole continents and time periods through the pages of a novel. But Karanina (even her name sounded like it came from a book), wasn’t cut out to be the English teacher she always thought she’d be. Too much focus on the grammatical side of things and not enough focus on the story for her. Or occasionally there was far too much focus on the story; Karanina preferred the curtains to stay blue because it was the author’s preference, not because they were depressed.
Which is why she stood in front of a school that looked like Hogwarts dressed in a white chef coat and checkered pants. It was not her style in the slightest, she’d rather a summer dress, a cardigan, and a pair of moccasins. With an armchair, a cup of tea, and book if we really wanted to be truthful. Anywhere but the hometown she grew up in, the school she had driven past on countless occasions, with a career choice that she wasn’t altogether certain of.
All she was actually certain of was that she loved to bake. And this school had an entire major devoted to that. In short, it couldn’t be that bad. If only she could manage to get through the front doors. She just had to think of it like a book. This was the inciting incident. Or at least it would be once she unfroze. A sea of white coats and checkered pants past her, and as if caught in a current, she felt herself being pulled along with them.
The sea stopped at the top of stairs (they only helped to magnify the Hogwarts feel of the building) and migrated into a lecture hall. Karanina sat and listened and did all the required motions of taking notes and smiling politely at the girl next to her who kept sneezing and then asking to borrow a pencil. It wasn’t polite to offer hand sanitizer, but Karanina wished she could. She also wished she could stop staring towards her partners long eye lashes and stormy eyes. A book would be great in this moment.
Once the lecture ended, it was on to the fun stuff. The baking. The sneezer with the eyes, who’s name she learned was Michaela, was her partner. Karanina really hoped (silently of course) that she washed her hands frequently. Breads were the topic of the day, and as Karanina discovered rather quickly, there was plenty of ways to mess up something even that simple. Don’t add the sugar, it falls. Don’t add the salt, it rises too fast and then falls. No one wants a fallen bread, Karanina and Michaela thought as they stared at their flat little loaf. Next time.
The days that followed were much the same (but they remembered to add the sugar from that first day on) and slowly the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months. Karanina had started doing all of her homework on the weekends so she could spend every other night pretending that this school didn’t exist and convincing herself that this was the career she chose. Halfway through Harry Potter and day dreaming about how nice it would be if her school was truly magical, a paper fell out of her book and onto the floor. It was a note.
A note with a heart to be precise. More precisely, a note with a heart and a name that shall not be named. Karanina gasped and held it to her heart. Now school was truly progressing how a novel should! A love interest has been introduced, now our dear heroine baker must survive the perils of what is known as a “crush” that may possibly lead to a “Date!” As she sat in bed, she hatched a plan to let her new love know that she too was in love.
The next day was cakes. With her slender artists hands, Karanina was naturally good at them. And in a smug way, she made the cakes as Michaela made the frostings and fillings. But minutes after being in the oven she began to hear a weird sound, like a hot air balloon rising or something filling with air. She dismissed it, couldn’t be her. And then it was louder. Other people heard. And as she turned and raced to the oven, the sound was steadily getting louder. Towels in hand she reached in and yanked the billowing cake from the oven. Well, she thought at least now it truly looks like angel food cake, with wings and everything. The over risen cake was a comical mess of an item and no one had ever seen anything quite like it.
With the courage she didn’t know she had (unknown to anyone else, she was picturing herself as Katniss yelling I volunteer as tribute and was following the same blind love), she walked to Michaela with the cake in her hands.
“Did it hurt?” she asked. Determined to say the idiotic line, despite knowing how foolish it was.
“What?” Michaela was embarrassed, in cowering disbelief.
“Did it hurt when you fell from heaven? Because this cake certainly fell, and it looks like it hurt, so to an angel like you, it must not have been great.” Her great romantic of a parisian bakery instructor stood behind her, mouth open, staring at the cake and grasping at words, not sure whether to attack the girl’s sad cake or her sad attempt at telling her bakery partner that she loved her.
Michaela stared back dead pan. And then started to smile. And finally starting to laugh, her huge cacophonous laugh. The rest of the room started to erupt behind her as Karanina stood and awkwardly chuckled. It wasn’t going to plan. Any of it. It should have been romantic and quiet, just the two of them, not an audience full of faces who she’d come to love as family. Romantic gestures in front of family are always awkward, it was a proven fact. Caught up in her terrified thoughts, Karanina jumped as she felt Michaela’s lips on hers. Pulling back from the sudden embrace, Michaela whispered, “Hurt at first, but not now that I’ve got you.”




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